Thursday, September 11, 2008

Esquire They Doing That?

In keeping with my tradition of ignoring anniversaries, I will make no mention of the fact that today is the 7th anniversary of a major anti-U.S. terrorist attack involving 4 hijacked airliners. (Well, except for that.)

Instead, I'll talk about the 75th anniversary of Esquire magazine and, in particular, the much-ballyhooed cover. The cover, at least on 100,000 copies, features an electronic display with technology from E-Ink, a Cambridge, MA spin-off from the MIT Media Lab. E-Ink's flagship product, a flexible electronic display, lets you have paper whose contents can be replaced, so, for example, a sheet could display the front page of The New York Times, always with the latest news.

Unfortunately, the small sample included on the October 2008 Esquire cover (with another inside for an ad) is spectacularly unimpressive. Basically, it just flashes some text and some boxes on and off. The display doesn't really change at all. There are some photos and some text printed on a plastic sheet which overlays the E-Ink product, and by changing the background of the product from dark gray to white, these appear to flash on and off. But the photos don't change. Nothing moves. Even the text which is actually displayed on the e-paper is completely static. I just blinks on and off. The same effect could be achieved with an LCD pretty easily, I think.

The text proudly declares "The 21st Century Begins Now," but you'd never know it from this demonstration.

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